Cape Town -
Thousands of people from across the Western Cape flocked to Cape Town on Wednesday for an official memorial event to celebrate the life of their hero, former president Nelson Mandela.
Around 53 000 people are expected to pack the stadium after free tickets were snapped up in a day.
The queues at the stadium gates started growing well before the event started at 4pm.
Many die-hard African National Congress supporters, who had travelled from deep rural areas in the province, entered the gates singing struggle songs and dancing in circles.
“As a disciplined member of the ANC, I'm here to celebrate his life,” said Hout Bay branch member Man-O-Man Mazele, who had a large party flag wrapped around him.
“You can see it's a rainbow nation country. It shows the values and principles that he planted here.”
Victoria Letswalo, from Parklands, said she was given time off from the provincial government to attend, and was pleased to enjoy all the opportunities for which Mandela fought.
“Mandela meant so much to us so we come to celebrate his life and our freedom,” said Monique Joseph, who came all the way from Ceres in the Koue Bokkeveld.
Larry Jackson, from Green Point, said the memorial was a fitting tribute to Madiba.
“It's a day of reflection, I suppose, and togetherness. All cultures and colours coming together, and I think that's the most important thing, the unity,” Jackson said.
Sibongile Bango, from Nyanga East, said he was excited to join in the celebrations.
“I'm not here to cry or anything, but to celebrate his achievements in uniting black and white people,” Bango said.
He added that Cape Town still had a long way to go to reflecting a true rainbow nation.
Scottish songstress and political activist Annie Lennox confirmed her attendance at the last minute and will likely join other big names on stage.
They include Ladysmith Mambazo, Johnny Clegg and Freshlyground. - Sapa